Staunton, Apr. 10 – If Russians continue to deny that the centralization of their state is a problem and if they continue to try to force ethnic territories into a single matrix because they view all differences as a threat to the territorial integrity of the state, such attitudes “will lead to the disintegration” of what is now called “the Russian Federation, Ilya Budraitskis says.
That outcome can be avoided, the political scientist at the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences (“Shaninka”) says, but only “if this course is reversed.” Until that happens, Russia is on a collision course with disaster (meduza.io/feature/2023/04/10/nachalo-voyny-raskololo-levoe-dvizhenie-v-rossii-odni-podderzhali-vtorzhenie-drugie-stali-partizanami).
There are both domestic and foreign policy forces at work that suggest that making such a change will be very difficult. First of all, Budraitskis says, “today’s war is based in the doctrine of historical revisionism, on the idea that the true existence of Russia is impossible within existing borders,” a view from the soviet and imperial past and that Putin promotes.
“For a post-Putin Russia to live in peace with its neighbors and cease to be viewed as a constant threat to others,” the political scientist continues, “a very serious reworking of imperial consciousness will be required.”
At the same time, while Russia is called a federation, it is “in fact a super-centralized state where all resources are taken by Moscow and part given back to the regions in exchange for complete political loyalty.” In sum, Moscow is holding the regions by force and money alone, he continues.
“No additional attractive program is being created for these territories; and as a result, when central power weakens or when there is less money, then, in the foreseeable future, we will see an explosion of centrifugal trends within the country” that could easily tear it into numerous pieces.
That will not be comfortable for many of the regions, but “if we want to preserve a common space,” that will require addressing the questions about which values, ideas and principles Russia can offer to the regions,” values like “tolerance, equality, a developed social policy, and autonomy in the development of their resources.”
Only if that happens will there be any chance of “preserving this space in the form of a federation or confederation.” Otherwise, it will fly apart.